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Canada's System of Government

A system of government is really a collection of rules, procedures, and institutions that have been put in place by a group of people to manage the issues that arise from living together. Some systems of government are fair and good (they work well for the people they govern). Some are corrupt and bad (for the majority of people - they serve only a powerful few at the expense of the rest). Good systems of government, like most agree that Canada’s is, don’t just happen on their own. There is no supernatural power that creates “good governments” for people to use. They are created by people and must be preserved by the people. This is what the Canadian version of the Civic Mirror challenges students to do: to use Canada’s system of government to self-govern their classroom and prevent their country from slipping into a mess of chaos and corruption.

The Civic Mirror has always done an excellent job of allowing students to experience Canada’s system of government, but this module provides the missing curricular piece, and teaches students how to master the concepts of federalism, rule of law, and parliamentary democracy.  What’s more, the opening Reflection & Connection task challenges students to identify the simulation’s shortcomings with regards to Canadian government by writing a critical ‘game review.’ In other words, in order to complete this overarching performance task, students have to understand the content well enough to evaluate it accurately and critique Civic Mirror’s shortcomings.  

To help with this challenge, the module incorporates a series of examples to make the core concepts relevant and meaningful for students:

  1. A classroom “gone wild” example introduces the purpose and roles of government
  2. A high school student parliament debate over what music gets played at school is used to illustrate workings of parliamentary government
  3. A fictitious example of a marijuana legalization law is used to illustrate the legislative process
  4. The classroom “gone wild” example is used again to explain the different levels of power and responsibility in Canada’s federal system

In school, the task of governing has largely been given to the adults in the building. The Civic Mirror, however, enables students to take control of the learning and turn their classroom into a “civic laboratory.” Now, with the content in this module and the Civic Mirror experience, students will appreciate that the “peace, order, and good government” we enjoy as Canadians is not by accident, but built on the foundations of the rule of law, parliamentary democracy, and federalism.